Upgrades at Arts Center help improve arts programming

Jessica Klarp
Special to The Black Mountain News

Thanks to the generosity of a local community committed to the arts, the Black Mountain Center for the Arts has seen a number of small but significant improvements to its facility that are contributing to its programming.

Upstairs the dance studio has seen the installation of a new portable Marley dance floor. The durable sheeting improves the surface for dancers and covers the old wood floor that was beautiful, but slippery.

Ballet instructor and professional dancer Casey Kristofferson-LittleJohn leads eight different ballet classes throughout the week for ages 3-adult. Included among the students are a growing number of young women who are on pointe and seeking a pre-professional status in their ballet journey.

The Marley floor allows the dancers to turn and leap without the additional risk posed by the 100-year-old wood floors. Amy Maze takes advantage of the new flooring when she teaches seven contemporary classes to dancers ages 3-16, including the performance-based Dance Troupe.

On the other side of the building, at least 10 gallery shows a year take place in the Upper Gallery of the Arts Center. The space transforms almost monthly in displays that include media ranging from pastel to glass.

The gallery’s inventory of pedestals for three-dimensional work grew substantially in 2015 when the center acquired 10 new painted pedestals. Currently the Clay Studio Exhibit is taking advantage of the varying sizes and shapes of the new display options.

The Upper Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is free to the public.

Of the 28 different classes offered every week, the arts center is home to weekly JAM sessions (Junior Appalachian Musicians) for students in third through eighth grades. For the past nine years the center has facilitated the Buncombe County version of this program, which is supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The program makes instrument rental affordable.

Recently thanks to the efforts of volunteer Bob Crane, a new instrument rack was constructed to hold the art center’s inventory of guitars, banjos and fiddles.

A new library of more than 100 plays for the Front Porch Theater was donated to help the community theater determine future seasons. Local libraries do not stock play scripts, so this gift allows the committee an opportunity to peruse and choose which plays will be best suited for the center’s intimate stage.

These small improvements make a big difference to the people who use the center on a regular basis.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is at 225 W. State St. For more about donating or becoming a part, visit or call 669-0930.